Ace of Base: 2018 Mini Cooper Hardtop 2-Door

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
ace of base 2018 mini cooper hardtop 2 door

The rebooted Mini brand was launched nearly 20 years ago, an alarming reminder of the relentless march of time and my own rapidly disappearing hairline. Since its introduction, when it competed for customer cash during the retro boom, the brand has grown into a full line of cars, ranging from the original Hardtop to plug-in hybrids and the oddly lumpy Clubman.

Far from its humble roots, it is now possible to spend north of $50,000 on a Mini in 2018. How does the base model stack up at less than half that price? Let’s find out.

Starting at $21,600 sans destination fees, the least costly Cooper is available in any color you want … as long as it’s Moonwalk Grey. Every other color – from Electric Blue to British Racing Green – will cost an extra $500 at minimum. Still, a trio of exterior trims are available for $0.

Under the retro hood is a boosted 1.5-liter inline-three whose turbocharging and direct injection are good for 134 horsepower at a reasonable 4,400 rpm. Even more appealing for around-town drivers, all 162 lb-ft of torque from the three angry squirrels comes online at a barely-off-idle 1,250 rpm. Equipped with a six-speed manual, the Hardtop should make 60 mph from a standstill in about 7.5 seconds. A tidy 98.2-inch wheelbase and quick-ratio electric steering means the Cooper darts around like hyperactive cats on a hot tin roof.

Occupants of the Cooper won’t be hot, as air conditioning is standard equipment on the cheapest of Minis, even seeing fit to vent some of its cold air into the glovebox to create a quasi-cooler for drinks. Luxuries like one-touch power windows, heated mirrors, and automatic headlamps are all on tap. Bluetooth infotainment and handy USB charging are along for the ride, too

A snazzy start/stop button awaits the itchy trigger finger of its driver, along with a backup camera and a raft of airbags. In another good turn for new drivers, every new Mini comes standard with a comprehensive maintenance program, covering scheduled service stops for the first three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.

Given that much of America currently resembles the planet Hoth, it’s worth noting Mini gives customers the option of selecting all-season tires for $0 in place of the standard performance-oriented hoops. They’re 15 inches in diameter, by the way, keeping future replacement costs from climbing into the upper stratosphere.

So a true Ace of Base, then? Not quite. I’d spring for the $100 white turn signal kit, which swaps the standard amber turn signals for a clear set, removing the stock units which resemble infected tear ducts. Still, considering the level of standard equipment and the dose of unique style it provides, one can certainly think of worse cars on which to spend $21,600.

Not every base model has aced it. The ones which have? They help make our automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you’d like to see in our series? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown with American options and is priced in Freedom Dollars. As always, your dealer will probably sell for less.

[Images: BMW Group]

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4 of 40 comments
  • Jerome10 Jerome10 on Jan 03, 2018

    I loved the original S that I had driven. The zippy nature and the burbling on deceleration. Car was a blast, but price and reliability concerns kept me from pulling the trigger. I don't know about these new ones, I don't have a MINI dealer near me anyway, but if they still have that beat-the-snot-outta-me-please feel, I could see this being a solid selection for Ace of Base. Something about those cars in a Miata-type way but somehow seemed to be even more fun despite FWD and all that jazz.

  • Ricky Spanish Ricky Spanish on Jan 04, 2018

    Everything else in this segment outperforms the car with a lower price. This car exists so affluent white suburbanites have something to give to their 16 year old daughters.

    • See 1 previous
    • Maymar Maymar on Jan 04, 2018

      Considering there's 3-4 MINIs of various age in my condo garage, I'd say they're also relatively popular with urbanites who want a small car, but don't want to look like they want a small car for the sake of being cheap. Not much else out there fits that bill.

  • FreedMike Always lusted after that first-gen 300 - particularly the "Heritage Edition," which had special 300 badging and a translucent plastic steering wheel (ala the '50s and '60s "letter cars").
  • Dave M. Although the effective takeover by Daimler is pooped upon, this is one they got right. I wasn't a fan of the LHs, mostly due to reported mechanical, NVH and build quality issues, but I though Chrysler hit it out of the park with the LXs. The other hyped release that year was the Ford Five Hundred, which, while a well-built car with superior interior space, couldn't hold a candle to the 300.
  • Art Vandelay I always liked those last FWD 300's. Been ages since I've seen one on the road though. Lots of time in the RWD ones as rentals. No complaints whatsoever.
  • Cardave5150 I've had 2 different 300's - an '08 300SRT and an '18 300C. Loved them both a LOT, although, by the time I had the second one, I wasn't altogether thrilled with the image of 300's out on the street, as projected by the 3rd or 4th buyers of the cars.I always thought that the car looked a little stubby behind the rear wheels - something that an extra 3-4" in the trunk area would have greatly helped.When the 300 was first launched, there were invitation-only meet-and-greets at the dealerships, reminding me of the old days when new model-year launches were HUGE. At my local dealer, they were all in formalwear (tuxes and elegant dresses) with a nice spread of food. They gave out crystal medallions of the 300 in a sweet little velvet box (I've got mine around the house somewhere). I talked to a sales guy for about 5 minutes before I asked if we could take one of the cars out (a 300C with the 5.7 Hemi). He acted like he'd been waiting all evening for someone to ask that - we jumped in the car and went out - that thing, for the time, seemed to fly.Corey - when it comes time for it, don't forget to mention the slightly-stretched wheelbase 300 (I think it was the 300L??). I've never found one for sale (not that I've looked THAT hard), as they only built them for a couple of years.
  • Jkross22 "I’m doing more for the planet by continuing to drive my vehicle than buying a new one for strictly frivolous reasons."It's not possible to repeat this too much.